A young student’s dedication to learning the traditional skills of a woodsman in his spare time when not attending school has, years later, paid off having been named Apprentice of the Year 2018 at Northumberland College.
 
Jack Knights has completed a two year, level two Arborist apprenticeship programme in only a one year period as part of his career at Hauxwell Hall Estate, North Yorkshire, where since the age of 14 years old, he has assisted a five-strong forestry team in his spare time.
 
Fully supported by Sir Richard Dalton, owner of the 4,590-acre estate, who recognised his talent at an early age, Jack was enrolled onto the programme at 16 years old and has since worked closely with assessors from the College’s Kirkley Hall campus to learn specific, land-based skills and improve his vocational learning using dyslexia-friendlymethods.
 
However, given his location and the 80 miles round trip to get to Kirkley Hall each week, arrangements were made for College assessor, Paddy Smith, to deliver the apprenticeship programme on-site at Hauxwell Hall. This reaped further benefits for Jack with improved personal and social skills, a boost to his confidence and new qualifications in chainsaw maintenance and cross cutting, whilst being responsible for felling trees on the estate.
 
He commented, “I’d tried construction work prior to the course but always felt that arboriculture was more for me and the direction I wanted to take. It was what I personally enjoyed in my spare time working at the estate so I grabbed the apprenticeship opportunity with both hands when it was offered to me.
 
“The training programme has been great. I love learning new skills and understanding the theory behind the different trees and this has enabled me to significantly improve my knowledge and do better in my job. I’ve had great support, especially from my employer, however Paddy is also a fantastic teacher and I would have really struggled without his encouragement. I’ve learned so much from him and Northumberland College that I’m now enrolled on level 3.”
 
Northumberland College’s Kirkley Hall campus offers a range of land-based learning programmes including countryside management, environmental conservation, horticulture and forestry and arboriculture, as well as animal care, equine, veterinary care and military services.
 
Assessor Paddy Smith added, “Jack is a great example of a student that has shown huge passion and commitment to his studies, as well as overcome personal challenges to achieve fantastic success on the course. We have worked closely with his employer, Hauxwell Hall Estate, to ensure that the course was delivered in the best way possible and by enabling Jack to complete his studies on-site, he has proven that he has real aptitude and a natural talent for this line of work. He is now completing level three and I have no doubt that he has a strong future in arboriculture.”
 
For more details on land-based courses or apprenticeship programmes at Northumberland College, please t: 01670 841200 or visit www.northumberland.ac.uk.

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